Facebook and the First Amendment

A sheriff’s deputy in Virginia is battling his former boss in the U.S. Court of Appeals after he was fired for “liking” the sheriff’s opponent on Facebook. The case is raising questions regarding freedom of speech and first amendment protections when using social media – a medium that does not always use words to communicate.

Today CNN published an in-depth article regarding this case and a few others that have brought former employees and their employers to court after disputed postings on social media.

As more employees adopt social media it is becoming more important that their employers create detailed documents highlighting online behavior and actions that will lead to termination. While at United Way one of my first duties was creating a social media policy alongside our strategy. All too frequently I see companies and nonprofits without a policy, opting not to wade into the murky waters of social media dos and don’ts.

As these cases prove, it is much easier to create this document before you find yourself in court, caught between the judge and public opinion. Here are a few examples.

And remember to set your boundaries:


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